Hawai’i – Day 3

Today was a long but fun day. We started out by driving to the north shore of O’ahu to do some snorkeling. There are a lot of beaches along the shore, but we headed to a place called Shark Cove. Because, hey, who wouldn’t want to snorkel at Shark Cove?

As it turns out, there really aren’t any sharks in the area. But there are several areas where the sea has carved out a cove in the lava rock (which is, by the way, the sharpest rock I’ve ever walked across). That keeps the waves down and makes for amazing snorkeling.

We donned our gear and jumped in. There were all sorts of fish cruising around, although my trusty old underwater camera didn’t really do justice to the scenery. Honestly I think part of the problem was my ability to take good photos while swimming.

Here’s a cool shot where you can see the surf crashing into the rocks on the shore. In this particular cove, the rock drops off precipitously and the water is immediately twenty feet deep, so when the waves collide with the rocks, there’s a lot of churning water.

We walked to a few nearby coves as well, checking the conditions at each one. I saw about a gazillion sea urchins, which are basically little black spiked balls of evil. They inhabit almost every little crevice and hole in the rocks, waiting for an unsuspecting foot or hand to hit them and suffer their wrath.

After a couple of hours, we decided to head up the coast a bit to a place called Turtle Bay. Unlike Shark Cove, which has no sharks, Turtle Bay is famous for its sea turtles. After a stern warning from some random older woman about how we shouldn’t touch or feed the turtles, Laralee and I had close encounters with two of them.

Again, the underwater photo isn’t that impressive. This particular turtle was around three feet across, although it sort of looks miniature here. Also, the water at Turtle Bay was actually kind of silty, so it was murkier than the clear blue water back at Shark Cove.

Then we drove to a couple of other gorgeous sand beaches. Wow, the north shore is beautiful.

Continuing along the coast, we stopped in for a visit to the La’ie Temple, which is absolutely stunning. The temple grounds are lush and green, with pools and fountains that accent the white marble.

We would’ve loved to go inside, but we were on a tight schedule and, quite frankly, still a bit sandy and seawater-smelling. So we continued on to the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Wow, this place was a ton of fun. There are areas for each of the major Polynesian nations, including Hawai’i, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, and (for a limited time only) the Cook Islands. In each area, there are people from those nations– mostly college students from nearby BYU-Hawai’i– who talk about the culture of their country and perform native dances and ceremonies. It was a pleasant mixture of talent and humor. We could easily have spent a full day there, but unfortunately only had about four hours to tour the different areas.

Later in the evening we settled in to watch “Ha: The Breath of Life”, which is the showcase event at the Center. It’s presented sort of as a play, but really it’s just an excuse to have a loose plot that ties together all of the islands and gives a different set of performers an opportunity to show their talents. There was some incredible dancing: Tahiti women have unbelievable hip movements, Samoans are super-high-energy, and the Hawai’ians finished with a breathtaking display of juggling fire sticks.

By the time we returned to our hotel, it had been a fourteen-hour day and we were pretty tired. I thought about taking a solo midnight walk along Waikiki Beach, but apparently it’s closed after 10pm. Oh well… we might head back there tomorrow.